IOWA CITY — Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery touted Trey Burke long before the Michigan point guard became Trey Burke, All-American.
McCaffery tried to recruit the Columbus, Ohio native when he took over at Iowa, then when Burke decommitted from Penn State. When Burke signed with Michigan, McCaffery knew the Big Ten would have its hands full defending him.
“To me he was elite at that time,” McCaffery said. “When I watched him play in competitive situations, he always was the best guard on the floor. Every time I watched him he was the best guard on the floor. He had the ability to run an offense, make plays in transition, make plays in half court and he was a tremendous scorer. Those guys are hard to find.
“You have scorers and playmakers. Typically when you have a guy that is exceptional in both areas, that changes everything when you’re preparing to play that team. That’s what I saw in him. I saw a guy who was going to be a superstar.”
Burke nearly turned pro after last season, when he led the Wolverines to a share of the Big Ten title. Burke was a second-team all-Big Ten selection as a freshman, averaging 14.8 points and nearly 4.6 assists a game.
He entered this season as a preseason All-American, and so far he’s taken his game to a level no player can match this year. Burke averages 18.1 points and 7.2 assists a game for the No. 2-ranked Wolverines (14-0), who play host to Iowa (11-3) on Sunday. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 3.7.
“His numbers right now are borderline ridiculous,” McCaffery said. “If you look at them, shooting percentages from 3, from the field, from the foul line, his assist-to-turnover, he steals the ball. Across the board his numbers are just phenomenal.
“Not that I was ever trying to predict his numbers down the road, but I knew Trey Burke would be an elite player. I knew he would be an NBA player, and that’s what he’ll be.”
Burke dazzled in Michigan’s Big Ten-opening beatdown at Northwestern (94-66). Burke scored 23 points, dished five assists, grabbed four rebounds and had four steals.
He also shut down Northwestern point guard Dave Sobolewski — who joined Burke on the Big Ten’s all-freshman team last year — and held him to seven points.
“It’s really a joy to watch,” Michigan Coach John Beilein said after the game. “There is some times I sit back and realize the growth of this young man in so many ways.
“He’s got a presence out there. He’s got the great ability to know when he can score and when he can find other people. His assist-to-turnover ratio tells it all. Throw that with his percentages, the job he did on Sobolewski (Thursday). He’s been doing that every day.”